Rewinding The Charts: In 1995, We Got to 'Know' Alanis Morissette, As She Scored Her First No. 1 Song

Alanis Morissette
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Alanis Morissette

'You Oughta Know' topped Alternative Airplay...even if she didn't remember recording her U.S. breakthrough.

"She played here acoustically and, as we were watching, we got the sense that she will be a force to be reckoned with. We all just thought, 'Wow, this is a moment we'll all remember.' "

In the July 15, 1995 Billboard, Brian Phillips, then-PD at WNNX Atlanta, recalled the impact of a 20-year-old Alanis Morissette, who'd played for the station as Maverick/Reprise set up her first U.S. album, Jagged Little Pill. The next issue, lead single "You Oughta Know" rose 2-1 on the Alternative Airplay chart (then-named Modern Rock Tracks) dated July 22, 1995, marking Morissette's first No. 1 song.

Further reinforcing Phillips' assessment, the album has sold 15.2 million copies domestically, ranking as the third-best-selling set since Nielsen Music/MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991.

Long before the song's legacy centered on its still-unnamed "Mr. Duplicity" -- no, it's not actor/comedian Dave Coulier, who dated Morissette in 1992; he's long laughed off such infamy -- those discovering Morissette's music quickly became enamored with her craft. "She's got a great touch with a lyric," Phillips said. "It's very mature. She cuts right to the bone."

The sound of Jagged Little Pill, musically and lyrically, marked a makeover for Morissette, who'd previously starred on Nickelodeon's You Can't Do That on Television and released two dance/pop albums in Canada.

"When I was writing it, it was so subconscious," Morissette told Billboard as "Know" approached No. 1 in 1995. "I wasn't aware of what was coming out of me. I'd go into the booth when the ink wasn't even dry and sing. I'd listen the next day and not really remember it."

The set has since spun off the musical of the same name, which premiered on Broadway in December 2019, while a 25th-anniversary edition of the album arrived June 26. Also last December, Morissette was honored with the Icon Award at Billboard's Women in Music celebration.

Morissette's new album, Such Pretty Forks in the Road, her first of all-new material since Havoc and Bright Lights in 2012, is due July 31.

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